One of my favorite festival times is when Lord Ganesha comes to visit! Called Ganesh Chaturthi this year 2017 goes from Thursday, the 24th of August until Tue 5 September.1
Also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi, Vinayaka Chavithi or sometimes Vinayagar Chaturthi, it is the birth anniversary of Lord Ganesha observed in the Hindu calendar month of Bhaadrapada, starting on the shukla chaturthi (fourth day of the waxing moon period). The festival marks a day on which Lord Ganesha makes his presence on earth for all his devotees. The festival lasts for up to 10 days (depending where it is), and ends on Ananta Chaturdashi. Yes, he comes to earth to visit his devotees. 2
Ganesha is known by 108 different names and is the Lord of arts and sciences and the deva of wisdom. He is honoured at the start of rituals and ceremonies as he’s considered the God of beginnings and is widely and dearly referred to as Ganapati or Vinayaka.
Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated with great devotion all over India, and is one of the most popular festivals in the Country. Famlies bring Lord Ganesha murtis home and celebrate by worshiping the Lord in a special way for a day and a half, 3 days, 5 days, 7 days or 11 days depending on the family tradition and commitment of each individual.
On the last day of worship the idol is taken out in a colorful and musical procession for immersion traditionally at a beach. There are several reasons for this. Ganapati is after all a popular God. We invoke his blessings at religious ceremonies as He is the one who can remove all obstacles to success. He is the giver of fortune and can help to avoid natural calamities.2
Out of all the stories linked to the history of this festival, the most relevant one dates back to the time of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Parvati is believed to be Ganesha’s creator. The story says that she used her sandalwood paste and created Ganesha in the absence of Shiva. She gave him the work of guarding her bathroom door while she was bathing. After Shiva returned home, Ganesha and Shiva got into a tiff due to which Shiva severed the head of the child. (The poor kid had no idea who Lord Shiva was, but he was told by his mom to guard the door while she bathed). Witnessing this site, Parvati became enraged and Lord Shiva promised to bring Ganesh back to life. The followers searched for a child’s head facing north, but all they could find was an elephant’s head. And that’s how our Gajanana was born.
I enjoy the Ganesha festivities and am a bit sad when he leaves. Some of the temples here in the US build clay murtis and the children also build them. In our city of Phoenix, AZ we use environmentally friendly materials that dissolve readily such as clay or mud. The departing of our Lord Ganesha is called Uttarpuja, which means bidding farewell to him with due reverence. After this ritual, there is a ceremony of immersing the statue in water, which is known as Ganpati Visarjan.
Aum Sri Ganeshya Namah